The three Jews who were imprisoned by the Zionist police for protesting in Beis Shemesh were freed Wednesday, August 8. Under the pressure of countless demonstrations by religious Jewry, as well as a barrage of protest letters, an Israeli judge decided to free Rabbis Moshe Leib Friedman, Binyamin Friedman and Avraham Fisher. However, to save face, the authorities proposed a plea bargain, under which the three would have to remain away from their homes and families for 4 months, under house arrest, with the exception of going to the synagogue to pray.
Despite the fact that house arrest for religious activism is an unheard-of punishment except under Communist regimes, rabbinic leaders who had been involved in the battle to free the rabbis advised the three to accept the offer, since staying in prison under the Zionist regime would mean endangering their lives.
In order to convince the religious activists to accept the plea bargain, the police made a verbal promise to close the cases against the prisoners the following week. The concluding hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, August 14, but for technical reasons relating to the defendants' attorney was rescheduled for Thursday.
On Friday, August 10 the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Tovia Weiss, came to visit the three prisoners. He gave them encouragement and thanked them for representing the Jewish people. He also spoke of the Torah-based obligation to protest, and blessed the prisoners for fulfilling the command of the Creator.
On Tuesday, August 14, the prisoners were visited by Rabbi Nosson Kofshitz of Beis Shemesh, who thanked and praised them for their courage in standing guard for the holiness of the city. He added that one can truly see the great benefit their actions brought about in the Beis Shemesh neighborhood, where over the past month and a half several secularist Jews have moved out, their places taken by religious Jews.
Religious Jewry continues to stand its guard, awaiting the trials of Rabbi Avraham Zarbiv and Rabbi Chaim Ahron Turchin in the coming weeks. Plans are also in place for a festive meal of thanksgiving to G-d for the miraculous recovery of Rabbi Turchin from a brutal physical assault instigated by the well-known pro-Zionist printer in Jerusalem, one year ago.
The Talmud says (Kesubos 33b) that torture is more unbearable than death, and so even Chananya, Mishael and Azariah who preferred to die rather than bow to Nebuchadnezzar's idol (see Daniel 3), had they been tortured, would have bowed to it. Tosafos explains that this is because the idol was not truly an object of worship, only made for the king's honor. But in our time, we have the Zionist state which is truly idolatry and heresy, and three Jews, Rabbis Moshe Leib Friedman, Avraham Fischer and Binyamin Friedman, refused to bow to it. They declared staunchly, "We do not recognize the Zionist government!" and were tortured for it, but never gave in. These three are truly our heroes and we are proud of them!